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DC Council Approves Limited Extended Alcohol Service Hours

by Borderstan.com June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com

In a neighborhood that is home to many of the District’s top restaurants and bars, it is hard to ignore the politics surrounding the food and beverage industries. (See our recent post on the potential Alcoholic Beverage Control license moratorium in the 14th and U Street area.)

"Martini Glasses"

Later hours for DC bars on holidays. (Luis Gomez Photos)

For starters, it is hard to overlook that the local hospitality industry is a core economic engine for the city, contributing more than $2.5 billion to the DC economy. And in a time when it is difficult to find employment in neighborhoods beyond Borderstan, it is hard to ignore that the local service industry employs more than 48,000 people.

That is why, a June 5 vote from the DC Council left the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) and several local businesses cheering — the vote permits hospitality venues to partially extend licensed alcoholic beverage service hours.

Now, what, exactly, does that mean?

Well, my fellow Borderstan friends, that means, starting this fall, DC restaurants and bars will have extended licensed alcoholic beverage services by one hour on holiday-related dates. And luckily for you, in a government-important city, holidays occur more frequently than dragon blood references on “Game of Thrones.”

It is predicted that the supplemental money generated by the service extension will help the Council to eliminate a projected city budget deficit, without increasing local taxes or fees for both residents and businesses. DC Mayor Vincent Gray, who proposed the service extension option on a year-round basis in order to generate a minimum $3.21 million in additional sales tax revenues, previously announced his support for the Council compromise.

“Local residents appreciate how our city relies on a dynamic nighttime economy,” said RAMW president, Lynne Breaux. “They understand how this policy change allows us to better, and more fully accommodate, a growing population with diverse working and living schedules, and it’s why a service extension has been embraced without significant or broad-based opposition originating with residents.”

The legislation results in the District’s move towards joining eight states in allowing on-premise alcohol sales at restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels until 3 am on weeknights and six states permitting sales until 4 am on weekends.

And for those who fear the bump in nightlife hours will impact public safety, you will be happy to know that DC Metropolitan Police Chief, Cathy Lanier, expressed her full confidence that expanded service hours throughout the year would pose no additional burdens on law enforcement personnel or public safety.

Looking for even better news? The Council also voted for a separate provision, allowing for extended service hours during the five-day Presidential Inauguration period next January.

And if you were in town for the last Inauguration, you know what a big deal that is… so, in other words, come election time, meet me at the bar?

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